Turkey seizes hundreds of smuggled rare African gray parrots


Customs officials in Istanbul seized more than 300 rare African gray parrots (Psittacus erithacus) smuggled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an official said Tuesday.

The General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National (DKMP) teams were last week tipped off about illegal trafficking of endemic African parrots and cooperated with Customs Enforcement and Anti-Smuggling and Intelligence Directorate units to find the birds.

The official from Turkish Forestry and Water Affairs Ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to media, said the birds were found at a customs warehouse in a cargo package en route to Iraq.

Trade of endemic birds was in 2016 under Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

According to the ministry official, the gray parrots -- one of the world's most trafficked birds -- would later be smuggled to markets in Turkey through Iraq.

He said 10 birds were dead when found and the rest were taken to Celal Acar Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in northwestern Bursa province.

Veysel Eroğlu, the minister of Forestry and Water Affairs, said: "The African Gray Parrot was listed in Annex 1 by the CITES Secretariat on Jan. 2, 2017."

Eroğlu added that Congo was suspended from wildlife trading following the last year decision.

According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), between 2.1 and 3.2 million African gray parrots were captured between the years of 1975 and 2013.

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